ZAMBOANGA CITY — Four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were killed in a focused military operation, coupled with air strikes, in the hinterlands of Basilan province, officials said Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Fernando Reyeg, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said the operation was launched early Wednesday in Sitio Gipitan, Barangay Bohe Pahu, Ungkaya Pukan municipality.
Reyeg, who is also the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, said the target of the offensive was the group of ASG subleader Furuji Indama.
Reyeg said a heavy firefight ensued as the joint forces of the Army’s 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 64th Infantry Battalion, 18th Infantry Battalion, and 12th Division Reconnaissance Company (12DRC) swooped down into Sitio Gipitan, Barangay Bohe Pahu.
He said the air strikes were launched as the Indama-led ASG bandits fled to different directions.
“Our troops are currently on the ground to pin down the Abu Sayyaf who are on the run and are evading military forces,” he said.
He said the troops of the 12DRC recovered the remains of the four slain ASG bandits and three high-powered firearms consisting of an M-16 Armalite rifle, one M-14 rifle and one R4 rifle during the clearing operation.
“The sustained military operations of JTF (Joint Task Force) Basilan manifest the commitment of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) in fulfilling its mandate of bringing internal peace and security in the province of Basilan,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief.
“Rest assured that we will continue to abide by the rules of engagement and contain the Abu Sayyaf Group with the assistance of the local government and the community,” dela Vega added. (PNA)